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Nov 10, 2016 6:05 PM

In NH1 News interview, Hassan praises Ayotte, talks about first priority 'going forward'

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Gov. Maggie Hassan says her first priority when she’s sworn into the U.S. Senate in January will be to “secure much needed emergency funding” to battle New Hampshire’s acute drug epidemic.

And in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News, Hassan also praised her rival for the past year in the nation’s most high profile Senate race, incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte, for “her service to our state and our country.”

Hassan narrowly edged Ayotte in Tuesday’s election, beating her by just over 1,000 votes out of more than 740,000 cast. Ayotte conceded on Wednesday afternoon, after deciding against requesting a recount.

Speaking Thursday afternoon with NH1 News in the Executive Council chambers at the State House, Hassan said she’s “just incredibly honored to be the next United States senator from New Hampshire and I’m very grateful to the people of New Hampshire for giving me this privilege.”

And she added “I’m also very grateful to Sen. Ayotte for her graciousness in her concession call to me and to her service to our state and our country.”

The contest between Hassan and Ayotte was one of the most expensive and negative Senate showdowns in the country.

“This election cycle really exposed some great divisions in our state and in our country. We also saw how many issues that we have in common there are. So I think it’s going to be really important as a country to have people in Washington who can really talk to each other and begin to build some bridges and I’m really looking forward to that,” the governor said.

Ayotte’s held 50 in-person town halls in her six years in the Senate. Hassan said she wants to keep in close contact with Granite States, telling NH1 News that it’s “really important for me that when I am back in New Hampshire I have lots of opportunity to touch base with people, both in formal ways and informal ways, and we’re talking right now about how we can make that happen.”

First priority

Hassan also said taking on the state’s epidemic will be her first job when she arrives on Capitol Hill.

“My first priority going forward is to see if we can secure much needed emergency funding to continue to help battle the heroin and opioid crisis,” Hassan declared.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Hassan said that “it will be my job in the United States Senate to make the best decisions for New Hampshire. To work with President-elect Trump when it is in the best interests of New Hampshire and the country and to stand up to him when it isn’t.”

One of Trump’s first tasks when he takes over in the White House will be to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court. Hassan says she’s looking for a nominee with excellent legal talent and experience and the character and temperament to handle the job on the high court.

She added that she insists that “whoever it is will always protect the civil rights of each and every Granite Stater and American.”

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